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The Sports Feen's Dose

My dose of opinions on all things sports...and pro wrestling!

The Beauty (and Ugliness) of Fantasy Football

"My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I want a second opinion. He said okay, you're ugly too.” – Rodney Dangerfield

The Beauty (and Ugliness) of Fantasy Football

In the summer of 2015, I wrote a blog giving the top ten reasons why people should play fantasy football (see link below):

http://thesportsfeen654.sportsblog.com/posts/2976952/top-ten-reasons-to-play-fantasy-football.html

The number one reason I gave people to play fantasy football was because it was fun. And believe me it is, however, that was before I missed the playoffs for the fifth time in my main 14-man league (I played in six different leagues last season but my main focus was on this particular league as it is for all the league members in it). I missed the playoffs by a game. It was disappointing and frustrating. Not only that but I also became the butt of jokes for league members because no matter how much knowledge I have about fantasy sports, or how much I claimed to know about football (not as much as basketball or baseball admittedly), my fantasy football performance has been poor in this league. Granted, I’ve won a championship before with my friend Elias as we co-partnered in a 12-man league that featured linebacker scoring of all things. I will admit though, he was the driver and I was just the co-pilot who’s main purpose was to be the voice of reason during “tough decisions” but above that, my job was to stay out of his way.

You see when we first created our fantasy football league six years ago; I had just begun to watch football on a regular basis. Yes, I grew up a Giants fan; however, I wouldn’t have called myself a true die-hard fan because I wasn’t watching every single game they played, nor did I follow the NFL as much as I did the NBA or MLB. That changed the moment we started our fantasy football league which consisted of mainly guys I grew up with. While many of them were big NFL fans, the majority didn’t have any fantasy sports experience but a few did, myself included (with fantasy baseball and basketball). But I think it’s fair to say that fantasy football is a different animal than any other sport and I don’t use the term ‘animal’ loosely when I say that.

In fantasy sports, if you aren’t as knowledgeable as your friends (ahem, competitors), you’ll look for ways to gain an edge. For me, it was my prior experience playing fantasy baseball or basketball, my general sports knowledge but the biggest edge I had was ROTOWORLD.com; the best website for any fantasy sports related news. But that edge was gone the moment I opened my mouth about the website to Elias and others. Rookie maneuver, I know. The first season of our league was just a 10-man league with standard scoring and has evolved into a 14-man standard scoring with half-point PPR (points per reception) league. Every fantasy player (and league) is different. Some of us follow Rotoworld.com (or ESPN/Yahoo) heavily; others don’t even bother. Some of us will watch all the football games and pay the extra money for the Red Zone channel; while others will just their favorite teams on TV (or not watch at all). Some of us are super active in making deals, making pickups, digging for information while others are less active, at times forgetful. With all that being said, there was one thing that caught my attention (besides the fact that I was missing the playoffs and finishing under .500 every year) and it was the fact that every season there had been a different league champion despite the variety of knowledge, activity, and experience amongst the group. There was no fantasy player superior to any other, no matter how much knowledge or experience, no matter how much football they watched, and no matter how active they were or not. To me, there was no exact science to being a great fantasy football player. In fact, I dare to say that fantasy is more luck (both good and bad) than it is about skill and I brought this to the attention of my league members.

Our league has a group chat with most of the league members where we banter about fantasy football topics (or life in general) and one day I decided to bring up the fact that I believed that fantasy football is mostly based on luck than it is about skill. It was received with a mixed reaction. Many pointed out that I was only saying that as an excuse for my poor records and fantasy performances. Elias, for example, said that fantasy is mostly based on skills and said if anything, it was 80% skills and 20% luck. I argued the percentage is way too high for skills when a lot of fantasy football is based on randomness (which I categorize under ‘luck’ portion) because we can’t control the unpredictability of player performances but also the randomness of our opponents. In fact, I cited Elias previous two seasons as perfect examples to back up my claim. In the 2014 season, he finished first in scoring in our league and missed the playoffs. Poor luck and the randomness of his opponents having their best weeks against him despite him consistently putting great scoring outputs weekly. In the 2015 season, it looked like he had drafted three potential RB1s (top ranked running backs) but all three of them got injured and were out for rest of the season. I don’t know about you but that seems like poor luck and something is unpredictable, thus random, am I right? There’s no way to predict injuries and if you could, I wouldn’t think you had great fantasy skills; I would think you are a psychic. So to compromise, I settled on this breakdown. Fantasy football is 60% skills and 40% luck.

60% Skills

Drafting players

Waivers/Free Agent Pickups

Trades

Roster Management

Line-up Decisions

Patience/Impatient

40% Luck

Randomness of opponents scoring output

Player health and injuries

Bye weeks

Timing

General Good or Bad Luck


I’m giving credit to those who are skillful but wouldn’t allow myself to discount how big of a factor luck/randomness is in fantasy football. In some cases, someone can be great at the 60% skills portion by drafting great players, making savvy pickups, and making great line up decisions but just have poor luck and lose matchups and thus not be great at fantasy football because it doesn’t matter if you have great players if they get hurt or don’t happen to produce a great amount in certain weeks. I’ve learned over the years that fantasy football is a fickle game and anything can happen. And my 2016 fantasy football was a perfect example of this.

I entered the 2016 fantasy football season with a determination to finally the playoffs. Not only that but I wanted to win it all and it wasn’t to prove I’m the best but to prove my theory about the skills/luck factor to be accurate. I did my research, some mock drafts, but the most important thing I thing was change my mindset about fantasy football. I promised myself that I wouldn’t get frustrated by outcomes (because again I believe we can’t control them) and just do my best to have fun playing the game (this is the key). My team name for this season was “Macho King” Ronnie Savage, named after one of my favorite wrestlers of all-time. And it became a fitting moniker when I decided that’ll actually act like a savage, a term used today by kids to describe someone who has the balls to say or do things without a care of what people say or think about them, which for the most part I already was, but I went the extra mile this time especially for my weekly opponents. I would post silly pictures of my opponents in the chatroom, make jokes about them or their teams, and it wasn’t even to gain an advantage mentally because it’s not like we’re playing on the football field itself. I did it all because it was funny and I had fun with it. None of it was done with any hate or animosity towards anyone but I can only speak for myself. But despite my savagery act and claim to have more fun playing fantasy football this year, I began the season 0-3 and reality set in; I am about to miss the playoffs once again!

First thing I did was laugh at myself because quite frankly, I was there poking fun at everyone yet I’m the one with no victories but secondly, I told myself to not get frustrated because again, it was out of my hands. I felt good about the team I drafted and in no way, shape, or form did I believe the players on my team sucked. However, I lost for a variety of reasons; some of it was poor lineup decisions, a few of my players got hurt, or the week I did put up a great scoring effort, I still lost because my opponent had an even greater week than me. No matter the reason, the fact was I was 0-3 with some key players hurting and some key players with bye weeks approaching which made me feel like I could easily end up 0-5 or 0-6 if I don’t make some changes. So I began to get extra active (and creative) in trade talks despite my usual promise to wait until mid-season before getting serious about making any trades (I break this promise every year). I didn’t want to miss the playoffs again and I needed to find way to improve my team and fast.

This is the team I started on Week 3 (after which I finished the week 0-3):

QB: Ryan Tannehill (streamed)

RB: Lamar Miller

RB: Charles Sims

WR: Allen Robinson

WR: Stefon Diggs

TE: Dennis Pitta

FLEX: Cole Beasley

DEF/ST: Dolphins (streamed)

K: Matt Bryant

BENCH

RB: Jonathan Stewart (hurt)

RB: Rashad Jennings (hurt)

TE: Tyler Eifert (hurt)

QB: Tyrod Taylor (didn’t trust)

RB: Deandre Washington

RB: Orleans Darkwa

IR: Donte Moncrief (hurt!)

And here are the four trades I made with to improve my team with a little insight as to why I made these trades:

Trade #1: Tyler Eifert and Rashad Jennings for Jeremy Maclin and Duke Johnson

- Initially, I was trying to acquire Jameis Winston to pair with Taylor who I liked but didn’t trust. I really liked Eifert but at 0-3, I couldn’t wait for him to return. I thought Maclin would be a solid WR2 while Duke was a decent RB option especially for PPR. The main point was to get healthier bodies, however.

Trade #2: Allen Robinson, Stefon Diggs, and Dennis Pitta for Julian Eldelman, Greg Olsen, and Sammy Watkins.

- I made two trades in a span of one day to overhaul my team. My main purpose on top of getting healthier was to acquire players with higher floors as well as players with later bye weeks. Robinson was my top pick coming off a huge Week 3 but he had a bye week coming up and I couldn’t afford another loss at this point. The original offered didn’t include Diggs/Watkins, it was a straight two for two which was rejected and I was told to include Lamar Miller in exchange for Frank Gore. I considered Miller an RB1 and felt that despite the fact I would get other upgrades in the deal that it wasn’t worth the price. However, I really wanted Edelman and Olsen. I considered Edelman a great buy low as he was struggling without Tom Brady but Brady was close to returning to suspension. And Olsen was a top-five tight end option every week. Diggs was someone I believe had low-end WR1 potential but I knew he was an attractive piece and I knew the person I spoke with regretted drafting Watkins. So I included Diggs in the deal and the next day the offer was accepted. (Note: Before the trade was processed, Watkins was placed on IR and I still went ahead with the deal. I knew the risk with Watkins but the deal was more Edelman/Olsen than it was about him. And since I was 0-3, I dropped Watkins because I couldn’t afford to stash both him and Moncrief on my bench (or IR) as I needed as many options as possible.

Trade #3: Jeremy Maclin and Duke Johnson for Emmanuel Sanders and Gary Barnidge.

- Other pieces were included (Orleans Darkwa and Josh Gordon) but this was basically a two for two. My opponent had many RB injuries and needed an RB2 badly and we made this trade prior to our Week 5 matchup. Not only that but we had made three bets prior to the season: who would have a better record, if I would make the playoffs or not, and who would win our Week 5 matchup. I didn’t care about those factors. I wanted Sanders and didn’t care if I was giving him the RB that he sorely lacked (I never liked Duke anyway). In my opinion, Sanders was a much safer option than Maclin but getting Barnidge gave me an extra asset to acquire a QB which I wanted (again, I didn’t trust Tyrod).

Trade #4: Gary Barnidge and Cole Beasley for Kirk Cousins and Sammie Coates.

- I took heat for this trade because I already had Tyrod Taylor who was solid to start the season, however, I loved Cousins’ potential prior to the season but that’s the main reason why I get for this deal. The heat came from agreeing to a deal involving Coates (who was on waivers and not yet on my trade partner’s roster). I wanted to use my waiver on a running back and I had the idea in mind to ask for a WR through waiver but my trade partner beat me to the punch but suggested it himself. The issue to certain league members was that I was manipulating the waivers somehow, however, it wasn’t like I was guaranteed to get Coates through him if someone else ahead of him on waivers would’ve claimed him instead but they didn’t. And if he didn’t get Coates, I would’ve done a straight deal (Cousins for Barnidge). He liked Beasley but with Dez Bryant returning, I felt like Coates had more upside. Beasley ended up having a better season but Coates almost single handedly won my Week 5 matchup (and bet).

After these four trades were made, this is how my roster shaped up heading into Week 5 matchup:

QB: Derek Anderson (Cam was out; I actually started him this week and won)

RB: Lamar Miller

RB: Deandre Washington

WR: Julian Edelman

WR: Emmanuel Sanders

TE: Greg Olsen

FLEX: Sammie Coates

DEF/ST: Steelers

K: Caleb Sturgis

BENCH

RB: Jonathan Stewart (still hurt)

RB: Bobby Rainey (the top claim that week)

RB: Jalen Richard

QB: Kirk Cousins

QB: Tyrod Taylor

RB: Peyton Barber

IR: Donte Moncrief


I don’t know how much better my team really was overall but at least it was much healthier, consisted with players with higher floors, and more specifically players with later bye weeks which gave me a shot to get back to .500 and a shot at the playoffs. However, I believe the biggest key for me going forward was the fact that I needed to treat every week as a must win matchup. I learned a lesson early on in the season which was to remember that fantasy football is a weekly game. I questioned a league member before Week 1 started about why he benched Cam Newton (after he drafted Cam in the first round) for Matt Ryan and his explanation was “I don’t care that I drafted Cam in the first, Ryan has a better matchup this week” and he was right; he did and he ended up outscoring Cam. Also, I would usually claim players each week based on who I felt had the best perceived value for the season but anymore. At 0-3, I started claiming players based on who could help me in that particular week or to block my upcoming opponent from obtaining a player he plug in due to bye weeks or injuries. I also did the same thing with defenses. I’m a streamer, I never draft defenses early but sometimes I’ll hold on to a defense longer if I felt they had potential to be better as the season rolled on. Not this season. Every week I was streaming the defense I felt had the best match up for that particular week and at times I used my top claim on a defense instead of a skill player because it was what I needed most to help put the best lineup for that week.

One league member called me scared for making so many trades. Sure, I’ve seen others start 0-4 and go on to win a championship, however, I didn’t want to stand pat and for hope for the best (like some others did), I wanted to be proactive (especially considering key players pending bye weeks). Not only that but every trade I made was calculated. It wasn’t like I was making trades for the sake of making trades and acquiring new players. Each player I acquired I liked prior to the season but wasn’t unfortunate enough to draft them. Each trade I made I felt I may have given more value than what I got in return (at the time) but they all came with risks. None of the players I traded were traded because I believe they weren’t any good and league members wouldn’t have made trades for my players if they felt what they were getting back wasn’t any good. But that’s beside the point. Scared wasn’t the word to describe me after Week 3; it was another S word: SAVVY.

There was one instance where this win at all costs mentality drew the ire of league members but it was my fault for opening my mouth. I asked a league member (a co-worker) of mine a hypothetical question one Friday morning; “Hey, if I were drop Hunter Henry, would you put in a claim on him?” His response was “yeah, he would be a better option than Jack Doyle.” And so I went ahead and dropped Henry to pick up a QB to stream (prior to acquiring Cousins). My coworker ended up claiming Henry like he said he wouldn’t. I asked him a hypothetical question and he answered. I didn’t tell him to make the claim, however. And even if I did, why would he listen to me? And would I be helping another league member who’s ahead of me in the standings? I wasn’t trying to. All I was trying to do was make sure my opponent wasn’t going to be able to claim Henry if I dropped him for the QB I wanted. And he didn’t and I won the match up. Did I feel guilty about? For like a second then I realized, there aren’t any rules saying you can’t talk to people during fantasy football season and I never put a gun to anyone’s head. But I digress.

After my fourth trade, I settled down and stopped talking trades seriously. I listened to offers but wasn’t as active. I liked my team and was in “chill mode.” My job every week was streaming my defenses and a new thing I tried this year was to stream kickers by picking up kickers involved in projected high scoring affairs. I also wasn’t afraid to start guys I picked up from waivers based on match-ups either. Previous years, I would hesitate and not bench someone I considered “my starter.” Whatever it was I was doing, it was working. I ended up winning 8 of my last 10 match ups to finish the season 8-5 and finally made the playoffs. The best part about the stretch run was winning so many close victories that came down to Sunday night or Monday night games. It gave me a little anxiety but for the most part, it was just fun to enjoy watching games that had extra meaning to them. That was great but what was more fun was seeing the frustration of other league members when they would lose to me especially my week 12 opponent, the same one who called me scared for making all the trades. Not only did I beat him (thank you Emmanuel Sanders!) but I also eliminated him from the playoffs, winning two bets in the process (winning our matchup and finishing the year with a better record).

While winning bets and seeing my friends frustrated was sweet at times, it was also bittersweet. I play fantasy to have fun and if I make fun or talk trash, it is never done with malice. Some of my friends never got the memo, I guess. It seemed like this season acting like a “savage” may have built some animosity towards me but I couldn’t help it because shit, I was winning and was finally backing it up. In our league, we use the term “magic” for people who are perceived to have more good luck than others. They also didn’t dare to talk as much smack as I did or show any signs of confidence because of fear of giving themselves bad karma. When it comes to fantasy football, I truly believe you can’t control anything except to enjoy watching football and have fun with it. I even laughed when they all said I had “magic” this year which was all fine but I also didn’t like that I wasn’t getting enough credit for the way I played this season. But I told myself, you know what, they’ll have no choice but to respect me and give me my credit when I win the championship…

But I didn’t win the championship this season (shout out to the new champion, Mirsh!). However, I did start 0-3 and ended up in the championship game which would’ve never seemed possible after Week 3. I came in 2nd place and won myself a little profit after league fees. It was disappointing at first but once the disappointment wears off, I was relieved. I finally got the “no playoffs” monkey off my back, for one, but secondly, I couldn’t recall a fantasy season (ever) that I had as much fun as this season; from all the jokes, from all the maneuvering, all the drama in games, and from actually winning some games for once. It was all fun, during wins and losses. I’m not going to say I was okay with losing because no one is a good loser but I will say that I am not a sore loser.

Fantasy football has its pros and cons but if you learn to just enjoy for what it is; a fun game, I believe the better off you’ll be. If you treat it like it’s life or death (and believe me some people do, just go on Twitter to see the hateful stuff people say to players who don’t perform well), then it won’t be any fun for you. I vow next season to be less savagery but I will NEVER stop clowning around and talking smack. I also vow to finally win the championship! Fantasy football is a fitting name because it’s a fun game to escape from reality, to enjoy playing with friends, to enjoy watching football, and to be competitive in a non-physical way. So again, if you’ve never played fantasy football, check out my ten reasons why you should because above all else, it’s fun. When I mention ugliness in title, it’s only about the temporary hatred your friends have towards you from whipping their butts certain weeks but otherwise, fantasy football is a beautiful game. Maybe fantasy football isn’t as beautiful as I described it in the title but it sure is fun. And I mean, having fun brings happiness, and being happy is a form of beauty, no?  

Top 5 Winners and Losers from NBA Free Agency

“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.” – Yogi Berra

I kept warning everybody last year about the contracts that were about to be given out to free agents in the coming years but no one would listen. But even I was surprised at the outrageous contracts given to the lights of Timofey Mozgov, Solomon Hill, and such. I mentioned in my blogs last year that the Knicks got a great deal signing Robin Lopez to 4-year $52 million deal last summer and friends of mine thought I was a fool because he was barely a starter in their eyes let alone an All-Star to be making $13 million a year. One year later, they realized I was right. Several contracts signed last summer to Lopez, DeMarre Carroll, and Enes Kanter, to name a few, were done by teams knowing that they wouldn’t look like such an overpay in the coming years. But what we witness this summer was ludicrous.

While I’m all for players getting their money’s worth and the owners to pay up because it’s been unbalanced for many years, I’m hoping in the next CBA negotiations the players, teams, and owners find a common ground. The common ground needs to limit crazy spending and figure out a way where teams actually have an advantage in keeping their own free agents (a little too late for OKC, I know). They also need to increase the rookie contracts and might as well increase the salaries of D-League players too. But that’s the down the road.  For now, I have enjoyed the free agency frenzy thus far and can’t wait for next year’s as well, mainly because I feel my Knicks will truly to be position to lure a star player this year but more on that later. For now, here’s a list of five winners and losers of this year’s free agency.

Top 5 Winners and Losers from NBA Free Agency

*NOTE: These two lists are my opinion and my opinion only.

Losers

5. Miami Heat

Maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh on the Heat because they lost Dwayne Wade, who’s 34 and probably wouldn’t be worth the max considering his fragile body but there something to be said for loyalty. Wade sacrificed money and leading role many times throughout his Heat tenure and was never the highest paid player on the team. He was only asking for two-year deal but above all else, they look like they’ll miss the playoffs and be better off rebuilding.

4. Los Angeles Lakers

They started the ridiculous contract trend with a bang by being the first team bid against themselves and hand out a 4-year $65 million dollar contract to Timofey Mozgov. But they didn’t stop there, a few days later they signed Luol Deng to a 4-year $72 million dollar deal. Even if the current market, these were overpays. I understand they needed some veterans to help their young players during their rebuild but it wasn’t necessary to sign them to four year deals. Since they’re rebuilding, they would’ve been better off signing Bismack Biyombo to play center instead. Also, why sign Deng when you’re first round draft pick (#2 overall) plays that position. The days of Hollywood enticing free agents are over. Luckily for them, they do have young pieces but I don’t think Russell Westbrook will doing any cartwheels next summer to join his home state team like many Lakers fans are hoping.

3. Dallas Mavericks

They started free agency hoping to lure the top available point guard (Mike Conley) and center (Hassan Whiteside) away from their respective teams only to have those teams keep their players by offering max deals. They also lost one of their own key players, Chandler Parsons, who himself got a max deal. They “rebounded” by re-signing a washed up Deron Williams (at least it’s for one year), traded for Andrew Bogut (and in turn helping Golden State clear space for Kevin Durant), and agreed to a max contract with Harrison Barnes. This seems to happen all the time with the Mavericks. They start with high hopes to end up signing players to just be good enough to make playoffs but not good enough to be contenders. At least, they did the right thing by giving Dirk Nowitzki one last big contract after all the years he sacrificed for the team, both physically and financially. Good for him. Maybe that will be a decent sales pitch for them in the future.

2. Los Angeles Clippers

They tried unsuccessful to get Durant to join them to create a “Big Four” with CP3, Blake, and Jordan and instead end up overpaying the coach’s son ($11 million a year allowance) and bringing back Jamal Crawford (nice guy, great bench player, but he’s 35). The Clippers fortune might only get worse next summer when both Griffin and Paul can exercise their player options to become free agents.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder

They lost Kevin Durant to their conference rival and are likely to lose their current best player next summer because of it. There was no other choice for number one. (More on Durant to GS later).

Winners

5. Memphis Grizzlies

They were able to keep Mike Conley (owner of the largest contract in league history now) and added Chandler Parsons. Along with a healthy Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, I expect the Grizzlies to be the biggest threat to dethrone the Golden State Warriors in the West because if there’s one way to beat the Warriors, it’s inside.

4. New York Knicks

Am I being a little biased? Sure, I am but hear me out. They have upgraded three of starting positions by adding Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, and Joakim Noah. Both Noah bring defensive presence and leadership needed for them to become contenders again. At first, Noah’s deal seemed like a slight overpay but now seems fair, ditto for Lee. Signing Brandon Jennings to one year deal for $5 million is tremendous value and fills a big need as a backup to Rose, whose injury history is well documented. They also brought over 2015 second round pick Willy Hernangomez to backup Noah and resigned Lance Thomas, a unhealded player who is versatile and is the type of glue guy every team needs. Most importantly, they kept their cap space for next season and making these moves will make them more attractive for free agents to consider joining next season.

3. Indiana Pacers

They did most of their work through trades before free agency adding Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young who are both great pieces (and great value contracts) in their quest to play smaller but the icing on the cake was adding Al Jefferson to a 3-year $30 million contract which is great value compared to what others received. Jefferson will be key come playoff time as a big man who can score. With Paul George back healthy and playing at an elite level, I see them as the second biggest threat to challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East, the first being…

2. Boston Celtics

Their future already seemed promising with so much young talent and a bright young coach in Brad Stevens. They seemed in position to make a big draft night deal but didn’t. Durant considered them for a bit but ultimately said no. But Boston did add the second biggest free agent, Al Horford. Horford is an underrated defender and is joining a great defensive team but it’s his scoring that is needed. In the playoffs, it seemed like Isiah Thomas was the only one who could score for them but now he has help. Boston looks ready to make a leap and has tremendous upside going forward. If the Thunder decide to deal Russell Westbrook, Boston seems a logical spot because they have so many young pieces and other assets.

1. Golden State Warriors

I don’t like Durant’s decision but this isn’t a blog about my opinion in regards to his decision. The Warriors have made the Finals back to back years and now with the addition of Kevin Durant, they should be making several more Finals appearances going forward. Financially, Durant actually left some money on the table by leaving OKC. The Warriors basically swapped Harrison Barnes for Durant and while they’ll lose a great defensive presence in Bogut, they’ve added some quality big men in David West and Zaza Pachulia on short cheap deals. Expect more veterans to jump on the wagon as well as they did with the Miami Heat years ago (I’m talking about you Ray Allen!). The pressure is definitely on Durant and the Warriors to deliver now but there’s no question who the number one winner of free agency was. 

UFC 200 Preview and Predictions

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” – Muhammad Ali


We were a mere three days away from one of the biggest pay-per-views in fighting history and my excitement level couldn’t have been higher and then around might midnight (EST), I had SportsCenter on in the background and I see the disheartening news that Jon Jones had been suspended for testing positive for a banned substance in an out-of-competition sample taken June 16 by USADA. We still don’t know yet what that substance is but Jones had recently claimed that he’s been 10 months sober so this news was disappointing to say the least.

While the card is still stacked from top to bottom, there is no doubt that Jones left the UFC in tough spot and cost many a lot of money, especially Daniel Cormier. If you saw the press conference last night, you saw how distraught Cormier was. When Cormier won the UFC title last year, he asked for Jones to “get his sh*t together” so that they can have their rematch with both of them at their absolute best. So now that’s two main events the UFC has lost due to unfortunate circumstances and while the UFC may potentially find an opponent for Cormier, UFC 200 will be remembered by many as the “What if” card and Cormier might get to find out if he could've beaten Jones at 100% and be considered the best light heavyweight in the world.

The new main event is now three-round (exception made here as main events are usually five rounds even if it’s a non-title fight) heavyweight bout between Brock Lesnar and Mark Hunt. I started watching MMA the moment co-headliner of UFC 200 Brock Lesnar started fighting in the octagon. I will admit I am pro wrestling fan first and foremost but I won’t deny that my love for MMA has grown immensely over the years. I watch all the pay-per-views and catch most the “UFC Fight Night” events even if I don’t catch it live, I’ll still watch it eventually thanks to my DVR. My love for the UFC has grown with the growth of the sport. I’m not only entertained by the fights but also with the interviews, the documentary-style shows that hype up the fights, the weigh-ins, the press conferences, all of it. Basically, the UFC does pro wrestling better than any wrestling company and I love them for it.

As I look at the card, some of my favorite fighters are on the card; the aforementioned, Lesnar, Diego Sanchez, Johny Hendricks, and Miesha Tate. With Conor McGregor faking retirement and Jones suspended, the late addition of Lesnar has become the UFC’s saving grace. Will UFC 200 break the UFC’s record for most pay-per-view buys? Probably not anymore but even if it doesn’t, I still believe we’ll get our money’s worth because this card is stacked featuring two (not three) title fights and we should be in for an entertaining night of fights.

UFC 200 Preview and Predictions

Quick Prelims Predictions:

Takanori Gomi over Jim Miller:  What better to start the night than these two who always put exciting fights and despite being the opening act, should challenge for “Fight of the Night” honors (probably say that a few times).

Gegard Mousasi over Thiago Santos: Santos is on a four-fight win streak but a win for Mousasi puts him in position to enter the top 5 in the Middleweight division and potentially a title fight next year with a win streak of his own.

Diego Sanchez over Joe Lauzon: Same thing I said earlier about Gomi/Miller applies here. I expect nothing but craziness and being biased here and picking Diego to pick up the win in hopefully a three round thriller.

Sage Northcutt over Enrique Marin: The UFC’s new golden boy looks like he has a “gimme” matchup here but that’s what people said vs Barberena who made him tap out. Needs to rebound and I think he will as the UFC has high hopes for him and I don’t believe they would showcase on this show to look bad again.

Raphael Assunção over TJ Dillashaw: Dillashaw just lost the Bantamweight title to Dominick Cruz and is looking to avenge his loss to Assunção three years ago; however, I think Assunção wins and become Cruz’s next challenge for the belt.

Johny Hendricks over Kelvin Gastelum: Kendricks has had problems with weight cuts and is in a slump. Looked real bad against Stephen Thompson so he needs this win big time to get back in the hunt. A win here probably puts in line to fight the winner of Condit/Maia to get the next shot following Thompson.

Julianna Peña over Cat Zingano: Zingano hasn’t fought since losing in the championship fight against Rousey but has wins over both competitors in the Women’s Bantamweight title fight, however, Peña is looking to make a name for herself and climb up the ranks in the division and what better way than to defeat Zingano.

Heavyweight Bout

Cain Velasquez vs Travis Browne

Cain can’t seem to shake off the injury bug which is the only reason he isn’t headlining this pay-per-view as Heavyweight champion. This will be his second fight in the last three years and it comes against Browne, who I thought a few years ago would be a Heavyweight title contender but hasn’t reached that level just yet. However, a big win over Velasquez could catapult Brown into title contention but I just don’t see that happening. The winner of the Miocic/Overeem fight in September will just be keeping the belt warm for Velasquez.

Prediction: Velasquez by first round TKO (by ground and pound)

Interim Featherweight Title Fight

Jose Aldo vs Frankie Edgar

Aldo hadn’t lost a fight in ten years and was considered by many the best pound for pound fighter in the world and in just 13 seconds everything was taken away. Aldo wanted the rematch with McGregor but McGregor had other plans and for the moment has relinquished the Featherweight belt to fight in other weight classes. Aldo’s legacy won’t be tarnished by his defeat to McGregor but he could use a big win but it won’t come easy versus Edgar, whose last defeat was against Aldo almost three years ago to this date. Edgar has gotten big wins over Swanson, Faber, and Mendes and seems primed to become the champion at 145. This should be a close fight and to me it’s a toss-up…

Prediction: AND NEW INTERIM CHAMPION...JOSE ALDO! (by split decision)

**Update:  Anderson Silva has replaced Jon Jones on the card.

Light Heavyweight Bout (Non-Title Fight - Three Rounds)

Anderson Silva vs Daniel Cormier (LHW Champion)

Silva is one of the greatest MMA fighters of all-time but his victory came against Stephen Bonnar in 2012 and only fought four times since, losing three of those fights and having one decision get overturned due to suspension. With that being said, the UFC had to salvage the event somehow after Jones was taken off the card and you got to be happy for Cormier who deserved the pay day that came with fighting at UFC 200. This matchup feels lopsided with Silva fighting in another weight class on short notice and Cormier having looked strong since his defeat to Jones. Silva has nothing to lose but a victory for him potentially gets him a shot at avenging his loss to Bisping and challenging for the middleweight title if Bisping retains the belt (it’s looking like Dan Henderson will be his first title defense). For Cormier, a win over Silva should be a nice feather in his cap but we all know he was dying to prove to the world that he was a better fighter than Jones and he won’t get that chance. This fight will be a non-title fight and three rounds and at this point all we can hope for is an entertaining fight.

Prediction: Cormier by unanimous decision

Women’s Bantamwieight Title Fight

Miesha Tate (Champion) vs Amanda Nunes

**Update:  This fight is now the main event of UFC 200

Tate is one tough cookie (or “cupcake” as she’s known by) and she deserves to be on this card after her amazing comeback versus Holms to become the champion. Everyone assumed Rousey would be back in time to reclaim her title but she’s still away. If not, Rousey then a rematch with Holm made sense, right? Well, apparently the UFC didn’t think so and instead went with Nunes, the Brazilian who could put a wrench into the UFC’s plans for big money making Women’s title fights for later this year. This could go either way but I expect Tate to win setting up the rematch versus Holm later this year at MSG with Rousey waiting in the wings.

Prediction: AND STILL…Tate by unanimous decision

Main Event: Heavyweight Bout

Brock Lesnar (WWE) vs Mark Hunt (UFC)

**Update:  This fight is back to being the co-main event

he very reason why I began to watch UFC was because of Brock Lesnar and the very reason I continue to do is because of men like Mark Hunt. While Hunt is basically a .500 fighter, he always put some of the best Heavyweights fights you’ll ever see, none better than the one against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva that ended in a draw. While Hunt is the favorite, Lesnar is no underdog. He is what Paul Heyman says he is, a “beast.” Hunt has walk-off KO power and Lesnar doesn’t have a strong chin, however, Lesnar has something to prove. I don’t think he would’ve come back to the UFC to embarrass himself. His short-lived UFC career ended badly with back to back losses to Velasquez and Overeem but he wasn’t 100% at the time due to a life-threatening disease, diverticulitis. Hunt is in for his biggest payday and I’m sure he will do his best to end this fight quickly by trying to KO Lesnar but I think it’ll backfire and Lesnar will be able to take him to the ground and pick up the “upset” victory over Hunt. The question then becomes: does he stay? Apparently, the UFC will allow Lesnar to come out to his WWE entrance song so there seems to be some kind of working relationship between the two companies so I wouldn’t rule it out but for now we’ll just get to enjoy for the first time ever, a WWE wrestler in the UFC octagon, who would’ve ever thought we’d see the day?

Prediction: Lesnar by first round TKO (ground and pound)

Enjoy UFC 200 everyone!

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